Academic journal article The Western Journal of Black Studies

Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the Challenge of Teacher Licensure Tests

Academic journal article The Western Journal of Black Studies

Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the Challenge of Teacher Licensure Tests

Article excerpt

Introduction

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the teacher testing requirements of Title II of the 1998 Amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1965 have accentuated the pressure on teacher preparation institutions across the country to be accountable for the quality of their teacher candidates and graduates. The way the two dominant policy instruments are applied, imply that the quality of teacher preparation is measured almost solely by candidates' performance on teacher licensure examinations, such as PRAXIS II. Consequently, teacher preparation institutions, as well as their faculty and students, understandably regard teacher licensure examinations as highstakes tests. For teacher preparation institutions, the consequences of poor performance on the tests include loss of public funding or even accreditation. For candidates, the consequence of not passing licensure test is equally grave the candidate would not be licensed. The serious implications of unacceptable level of performance on licensure tests put enormous pressure on institutions and generate anxiety among candidates. Teacher licensure test scores for 1999-2000 indicate that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) generally achieved scores lower than the minimum acceptable by their respective states (Southern Education Foundation, 2003). Understandably, the imperative of licensure tests is engendering institutional and programmatic activities in teacher preparation programs of HBCUs. Using initiatives at Kentucky State University as examples, the paper discusses the typical program quality and licensure test score enhancing efforts of the institutions. Some key policy implications of the current accountability environment are also discussed.

Institutional and Programmatic Initiatives

Sensitization of Campus Community

One of the measures most HBCU schools or colleges of education typically take in their bid to address the challenge of teacher licensure tests is to first sensitize their campus community generally, and education students and faculty in particular about the significance of teacher licensure test in light of the No Child Left Behind Act and Title II. The sensitization and enlightenment activities often entail meetings with different levels of academic and administrative leadership, meetings with Arts and Science faculty, meetings with students' representatives, email and bulletin board announcements. Common themes at sensitization meetings include: implications of poor performance on licensure tests for students, as well as for the colleges or universities; and the concept of teacher preparation as a collective responsibility of the university or college community. In most institutions, largescale sensitization activities occurred by the outset of the high stakes accountability regime. Then, a vast majority of faculty and students, even education students, on campuses across the country regarded teacher licensure examinations with some levity. There are numerous anecdotal accounts of how candidates cavalierly took the tests with little or no preparation. The stakes, then, for not passing a teacher licensure test, both for candidates and institutions, were not as high as they are today. At Kentucky State University, for instance, sensitization of students involves University, School of Education, faculty and studentled initiatives. At majors meetings, information about the Teacher Education Program generally, and PRAXIS II in particular is presented to education majors, and to students interested in becoming education majors. Student associations, such as the Student National Educational Association (SNEA) is another avenue utilized to present and discuss information related to Praxis!! with students. Flyers and brochures on PRAXIS II have been developed and distributed across campus. Information about PRAXIS II is routinely presented and discussed in class. PRAXIS 11 related information is necessarily included in course syllabi. …

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